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Is Sense Motive noticeable to those its used on?


Rules Questions


Couldn't find a previous thread like this, but the question is in the title.

Can players or npcs discern when others are trying to [Sense Motive] them?

In a current game, this situation has come up, and I decided to let the npc notice the attempt since: all the players were either aiding a sense motive check or rolling one themselves, they asked questions or otherwise gave a sense of mistrust with their actions.


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I'd rule that Sense motive, much like Perception, is most often passively noticing signs. From that follows that onlookers can't really see you doing it and that you can't cooperate.

Using Aid other for sense motive implies you're discussing clues on the subject. »Look, he trembled! Is he nervous?«. Without a way of concealing your disscussion, that would very much be noticeable by the subject.

Shadow Lodge

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No. A BS detector is always running, much like eyes and ears

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sense Motive is a 'gut' feeling, imo.

Now, 'Bluff' to pass hidden messages might be in order to convey the information without alerting the party in question?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sort of. Ironically, it would require a sense motive check to see if the other person is studying your motives while not trying to appear to do so.

Sometimes no check is needed since it would be obvious. A guard clearly on duty is obviously using their perception skill, an interrogator is clearly going to use sense motive on the person that is interrogated.


Sense motive in the "hunch" sense should be absolutely undetectable. In the "Sense Motive opposes Bluff" sense you could in theory reverse the relationship to see if the other person can tell that you are on to them, but this can get silly in a hurry if you want to know that they know that you know that they know that you know that they know ad nauseum, so I'd only bother with that if it matters, for example if what the PCs are saying in character would give one reason to believe that they are suspicious.


No sense motive is not detectable. Or at least no more so than you can detect, hmm that person seems to be listening to what I'm telling them. I'd call b+$~*&++ if I was playing in your game.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I think the OP was more asking more if all the Aid Another's on a Sense Motive was noticeable, rather than just if Sense Motive was noticeable by itself.


i would say the aid another on the sense motive would be detectable unless they make a bluff check opposed by the sense motive of the guy in question if its what the question is about


It would be neat if there was an abstraction the reflected the character using sense motive having to keep their composure if they caught a particularly unexpected/important lie, but there's not.

Sovereign Court

I would allow players to Aid on Sense Motive only under special circumstances.

Aid Another on "information" checks clearly requires communication between the participants. But situations with Sense Motive are usually sensitive situations; like meeting someone and not being sure whether to trust them. If you start discussing their trustworthiness right in front of them, chances are you just ruined all good faith in the negotiation. So to pull this off well, would require a discreet communications channel between the PCs. Like using Bluff, or telepathy.

A second thing is that I don't allow Aid on reactive checks where you only know you were making a check if you succeed. If someone is trying to sneak past the party, the players can't Aid on Perception because they weren't working together to listen for spies. (Unless that's exactly what they were actively trying to do.) If someone is trying to sneak a lie by the party, they don't get to Aid unless they were specifically prepared for it, like in an interrogation room scenario.


I think that rule would require an agreed to standard for what a aid another on a sense motive was.

If there is such a thing already I don't know about it xD


I'd let anybody attempt an aid another whenever the player can explain how they're aiding another. That should tell me how to rule on things like "Can people tell you're doing this" (generally yes, but maybe you're a 17th level Psychic and have Telepathy at will, so you can just coach someone from inside their head.)


KestrelZ wrote:

Sort of. Ironically, it would require a sense motive check to see if the other person is studying your motives while not trying to appear to do so.

Sometimes no check is needed since it would be obvious. A guard clearly on duty is obviously using their perception skill, an interrogator is clearly going to use sense motive on the person that is interrogated.

This is it. Counter Sense Motive check to notice they're on to you.

Scarab Sages

A take 10 would certainly not be, but doesn't a roll indicate you are concentrating particularly hard on the task? I think it would only come up if you are supposed to be a bystander listening to two other people talk. One party might notice that you are listening in. Which would only be important if you are pretending not to.

Remember that show Lie to Me where the main character would turn his head like a dog as he listened to you? I think that would be detectable.

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